Senior centers, elderly community rally against N.O. Council on Aging budget cuts

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The Carrollton Hollygrove Senior Center and other elderly members of the New Orleans community are protesting proposed budget cuts to the New Orleans Council on Aging.

Council on Aging Executive Director Howard Rodgers said the proposed cuts by Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration – about $200,000 less than the $887,000 the agency requested – could mean the closure of senior centers around the city and cutbacks in meal deliveries and other elderly client services.

“Statewide, if you look at our senior programs, compared to the programs to help kids and others, customarily the seniors fall short,” Rodgers said. “These are the people who sacrificed and worked, and to make another sacrifice this late in the game is very disturbing.”

Senior Center participants and others who oppose the budget cuts held a rally on the steps of City Hall Thursday morning.

The proposed cuts could potentially cut hours for participants who depend on the daily activities and socialization for quality of life, according to the Carrollton Hollygrove senior center.

“These people have already paid their dues. They’ve already worked. They’ve already retired. And they’re living on a fixed income. C’mon — and they’ve gone through Katrina, the worst disaster in America. And now you want to cut their funding so they can’t have no enjoyment whatsoever? C’mon Mitch. So you’re putting up traffic cameras instead of crime cameras. I got a problem with that. Now you’re cutting senior citizen funding? What is your agenda? You’re getting out of office this year. Why are you hurting all these people? People who have already suffered so much,” said protestor Terry Brown of Lakeview.

Rodgers said the mayor called him Thursday morning to set up a meeting with city officials.

“Hopefully, the mayor’s office and the City Council can sort this out,” Rodgers said.

The council on aging will go before the City Council Nov. 4 at 10 a.m. to present its budget. Rodgers said council members and the mayor’s office can expect seniors to show up in full force.

“This looks like to me a forgotten section of people. The elderly people. The backbone of the whole structure of the community.” said protestor Leonard Davis of Central City.